Support the field

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To the Editor: 

I think it is fair to say that it has been proven our high school athletic fields are overused and abused. The discussion for a synthetic turf field on Martha’s Vineyard has been ongoing for seven-plus years now. Dozens of community members have contributed to the project’s design ideas and concerns about the impact to our island. All concerns have been addressed and answered by experts in their respective fields.

This one synthetic turf field will take pressure off the five deprived grass fields which get only half the suggested nutrients, due to local nitrogen regulations. This synthetic turf field meets all Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations and standards, including not making our drinking or groundwater fall below state’s groundwater standards as required by Section 8.2; it does not cause the groundwater to fall below state standards.

This track and synthetic infield are necessary facilities for 13 high school teams. This will provide a safe, sustainable playing surface for our differently abled athletes to elite scholarship-bound, and everyone in between. This decision was based on need, not preference. As expert testimony provides:The grass fields cannot sustain the hours of play, and are only allowed half the necessary amount of the No. 1 nutrient, nitrogen.

Yes, this infield is a manmade surface. Excuse the play on words, on the surface unappealing to those who prefer natural ones. Our kids play hockey on artificial ice, not natural ice; play tennis on hard tennis courts, not clay; swim in a pool, not a pond/ocean; play basketball on courts covered in polyurethane. My point being, manmade surfaces are part of high school athletics. I hope that the fact it will be recycled and not generate hazardous waste, as required by Section 8.2, will make this manmade surface more tolerable for those with nature in mind. It also includes natural infill, conserves water usage, and yes, it’s worth repeating, per section 8.2, no hazardous waste can be generated. It will be recycled, that is part of what makes this field so incredible! It is not the black rubber matting of other fields we’ve seen rotting in rolls. Ours will have a woven back that can be recycled with the plastic blades of grass. Yes, a property was leased this spring by a company to build a recycling facility in Pennsylvania. The record shows this as well.

The kids have been waiting for four years, since the MVRHS School Committee accepted the recommendations to include this one synthetic turf field. It is very likely their homes have more PFAS in their leaching fields, as the record shows. Tetra Tech’s scientist’s test of three-bedroom septic tanks, as he testified, show they have more PFAS leaching potential than this synthetic field. Also a criterion of Section 8.2 is the PFAS in greater quantities of a household, NO it is not.

Let’s all attend this Wednesday’s planning board final hearing at 5. Support our planning board as they work through the criteria of Section 8.2. There is only one vote. Like it or not, this project

meets the criteria of 8.2!

Support the planning board as they vote yes, following the town bylaws. Not to mention the legal counsel received, which is they can’t deny the permit because they prefer another surface, can’t condition in a way to prevent the synthetic field from being built, and they may not put more “onerous” conditions on the project than the MVC did.

This isn’t easy for our elected officials with all the pressure of the opposition, so come show support of our Oak Bluffs planning board!

 

Donald Herman

Oak Bluffs

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